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CBI: No-deal to cost Northern Ireland economy millions in lost trade

Angela McGowan is director of the CBI here
Angela McGowan is director of the CBI here

By Lauren Harte

Northern Ireland's economy is facing a multi-million pound blow in the event of a no-deal Brexit due to the collapse of international trade deals, the head of the Confederation of British Industry here has warned.

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As efforts continue to reach a workable deal before the United Kingdom's exit on March 29, the CBI is highlighting the damaging implications for businesses of crashing out of trade deals covered by being part of the European Union.

It has argued that the province would be among the most exposed regions of the UK in the event of a no-deal.

The CBI previously claimed the local economy could suffer an annual £5bn drop in output by 2034 as a result.

The UK currently benefits from extensive trade agreements as an EU member which span around 70 countries.

The EU and the nations it has trade agreements with cover 32% of global GDP.

Including countries with whom the EU has agreements partly in place, the figure rises to 37%.

Here, exports to countries with EU free trade agreements are worth more than £1 billion every year, accounting for 12% of our exports.

This figure equates to the annual salaries of around 30,000 nurses.

Through these agreements, we export goods worth £480 million to Canada annually, with the machinery and transport sector among the most exposed to a no-deal.

If the UK crashes out of Europe without agreement, the CBI claims these exports risk having immediate tariffs imposed overnight, costing the local economy millions.

CBI Northern Ireland director Angela McGowan urged political leaders to move quickly towards a deal ahead of next month's deadline.

She said: "If the United Kingdom leaves the European Union without a deal, overnight businesses in Northern Ireland could cease to enjoy the benefits of tariff-free trade with, and easy access to, crucial markets for products and services, from Canada to South Korea.

"Many firms are unaware it is not just their relationships with EU customers at risk from a no-deal Brexit, but relationships across the globe."

Ms McGowan added: "Individual businesses trading with markets outside the EU would face tariffs worth millions of pounds being slapped on them instantaneously.

"These trade deals span five continents and are vital for the smooth export of our goods and services.

"Exports to countries with EU free trade agreements are worth more than £1bn to Northern Ireland every year.

"The risk to these deals is an overlooked danger to our economy and yet another reason why no deal is not an option for the UK and jeopardises jobs in our communities.

"It is vital compromise is shown on both sides of the Channel and politicians work quickly to come to a deal."

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